L. Michael Treadwell
‘This is a difficult time for business that calls for creative solutions. Operation Oswego County is available to help you navigate your options and put you in touch with the right people and the right solution.’
The pandemic has created many challenges for businesses, such as worker shortages, supply chain bottlenecks and confusion over where to get assistance. While these challenges are making business operation difficult, there is help available.
When the pandemic struck, many businesses were forced to either temporarily close or change their business model significantly. Closure brought with it layoffs, furloughs and remote work, along with many in the workforce reevaluating and changing careers. Schools moved to online instruction leaving parents struggling to balance work and school under the same roof. As businesses opened back up, some found that a percentage of their employees had moved on in one way or another. To make matters worse, they may have lost skilled workers, forcing them to retrain existing employees to fill that void while trying to find new employees who will also need training.
One way that businesses impacted by the labor shortage can find assistance is through the Oswego County Workforce New York office (www.ocwny.org) in the city of Fulton. They offer recruitment assistance, candidate pre-screening, job matching to your open positions through the New York State Department of Labor database, as well as potential customized training and on-the-job training programs for current employees and new hires. Additionally, some employers, where applicable, are offering employees the chance to work remotely on a long-term basis or incorporating new technology and training to increase employee productivity and improve the quality of life at the work place.
Businesses have also been hampered by bottlenecks in their supply chain. Labor shortages, transportation logistics issues and business closures are happening globally. This is causing delays on shipments for raw materials, as well as finished goods, and extreme pricing instability, as supply cannot meet demand for everything from silicon computer chips to construction materials.
Businesses looking for alternatives to their current global supply chain issues could look locally and regionally to their neighboring businesses to source or develop the parts or materials they need. Businesses within the same industry clusters could work together to purchase in bulk and share storage, if additional space is a concern. Businesses may also identify gaps in their industry’s supply chain that could become an opportunity for business growth. During these uncertain times, redefining how and who you do business with can not only help your business to survive, but also shift your long-term strategic vision and success.
Pandemic Assistance Program
Through the 18 months of the pandemic, the government rolled out several employment grants and disaster loan programs designed to assist businesses weather the storm such as the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). Unfortunately, many of those initiatives, while successful, have exhausted their funding and many businesses continue to struggle. To compound this, some businesses didn’t fit the eligibility criteria for these programs while they were available or they were not able to react fast enough to receive needed assistance.
However, there still are programs available at the federal, state and local levels if you know where to look. The Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program is still open and accepting applications through the US Small Business Administration (SBA). As Gov. Kathy Hochul took office, she expanded the eligibility criteria for the NY Pandemic Small Business Recovery Grant Program, making it available to more small businesses. The state also offers the NY Forward Loan Fund aimed at small businesses, nonprofits and small residential landlords. Operation Oswego County still has funds available in the Oswego County COVID-19 Emergency Relief Loan Fund. The application is available, as are links to the federal and state programs, on OOC’s COVID-19 Resources page.
L. Michael Treadwell, CEcD, is executive director of Operation Oswego County based in Oswego. To contact him call 315-343-1545 or visit www.oswegocounty.org.